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Food crisis: EU regional and local leaders urge investment on local production for sustainable and affordable food  

As food and energy prices increase, more support is needed for vulnerable households and supply chains and agricultural production.

Russia's war against Ukraine threatens global food supplies and has further destabilised agricultural markets and driven up already high prices for food, feed, energy and fertilisers, compounded by existing disruptions to food supply chains caused by pandemics and the effects of the climate crisis. In this context, CoR members discussed how to make the European food system more sustainable and prepared for future crises with Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, and MEP Marlene Mortler during the 30 November Plenary Session

Strengthening local and regional food systems by investing in sustainable, high-quality local production, shortening supply chains and implementing a long-term strategy to ensure food security in Europe were the key recommendations by local and regional leaders, included in the opinion on food security and resilience led by Piotr Całbecki (PL/EPP). Moreover, members did not shy away from more structural and long-term challenges that we urgently need to undertake in order to prepare for any future crises: need to develop local and regional food security contingency plans and strategies; further develop the regulation of agricultural markets to build up agricultural stocks and avoid financial speculations.

During the debate, the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro, said: "Russia's war against Ukraine, energy costs, inflation, climate emergency, pandemic: all these challenges are putting European farmers under great pressure, while dramatically reducing the affordability of food. The food crisis we live today is having a dramatic impact on vulnerable households, with too many Europeans not being able to afford a wholesome meal. European institutions but also national, local and regional authorities must act together and design effective emergency measures, while continuing our transition to a sustainable economy."

Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture, said: "The current crisis clearly confirms that we must address short-term challenges, while maintaining our transition towards more sustainable and resilient food systems. We need to improve the sustainability our food systems, not only for environmental and climate reasons, but also to ensure our strategic autonomy and to reduce our dependencies. Local and regional authorities have first-hand knowledge of these issues and the European Commission strongly welcomes their cooperation, contributions, and solutions."

MEP Marlene Mortler (DE/EPP) of the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, said:

"Global food security is a major challenge. And global challenges need global answers. The Green Deal will best succeed with agriculture, which means we need more offers instead of bans and reduction through innovation! The question today and tomorrow is: how can we produce enough biomass for food production for more people on less available land in a way that conserves resources and is therefore sustainable."

Piotr Całbecki (PL/EPP), rapporteur of the opinion "Safeguarding food security and reinforcing the resilience of food system." and President of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region, said: "To safeguard EU food security, we need to build upon resilient local food systems. This means: encouraging more diverse regional and local food production and fully exploiting the potential of local supply chains and food public procurement. The crisis we are facing today is not the first one and not the last one. Therefore, we need to better prepare for any future crises, including those linked to climate change and biodiversity loss. The crisis today must be seized to reduce our dependence on imported inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides."

He also pointed out that hundreds of millions of people around the world are at risk of starvation due to Russia's aggression. It is crucial, therefore, to involve local food, fertiliser and energy suppliers in the creation of emergency and global stocks.

In the adopted opinion, Local representatives support the strengthening of local supply chains and emphasise the need to deliver of Green Deal goals and the Farm to Fork strategy on the ground. They also demand to finance projects to improve food security at regional level and call for strengthening organic farming as well as systemic action to reduce food waste.

Background material:

· The plenary agenda and opinions and amendments.

· The CoR study on Repercussions of the agri-food crisis at local and regional level in the EU.

Webstreaming: On the website of the CoR.

Contact:

Monica Tiberi – Spokesperson of the President

Tel: +32 479 51 74 43

monica.tiberi@cor.europa.eu

Wioletta Wojewodzka

Tel. +32 (0) 473 84 39 86

wioletta.wojewodzka@cor.europa.eu


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